Africities 8-Concept Note: The Transition to Sustainable Cities and Territories: The Role of Local and Sub National Governments of Africa.








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1. The eighth edition of the Africities Summit, held in Marrakech from November 20 to 24 November, 2018, focuses on: The transition to sustainable cities and territories: the role of local and sub national governments of Africa.

2. This concept note defines the overall direction and consistency of the Summit activities. It serves as a reference for the preparation of the sessions of the Summit, and lays down the work assumptions from which it is necessary to define the questions and the perspectives of the general theme, namely that of the transition towards sustainable cities and territories. This concept note makes it possible to prepare proposals and recommendations which will be discussed and adopted by the ministers, mayors and leaders of local and regional governments; and considered by the cooperation partners of the African countries.

3. The Africities Summits are the space for developing proposals and training for African local elected representatives. This space is open to all those who wish, in alliance with African local and regional governments, to build alternative policies. Since 1998, the Africities Summits have enabled participants to understand and act on the issues affecting the evolution of Africa and Africans, at the level of local and regional governments, central governments, and African institutions.

4.  The Africities 8 Summit will explore the future of African cities and territories, as well as that of the local and regional governments that are responsible for administering and managing them. It will take as a starting point the context and the situation in Africa to highlight the dimensions of the transition from the ongoing changes. It will focus on the role and strategy of local and regional governments of Africa in the transition.


5. The future of cities and territories in Africa is part of the evolution of the continent and contributes to its future. Among the many questions that will mark the future of Africa, two trends are to be highlighted: globalization and urbanization. As supporters of the globalized economy, cities and territories are also transformed by globalization. The evolution of globalization is upsetting the geopolitical system and calling into question the nature of States. Globalization changes the relationships between different levels of governance (the local level, the national level, and that of the major regions and the world level); between the living spaces of the populations (including rural areas and urban spaces); between taking into account the specificity of local contexts, the construction of national unity within the borders of states, and the universal character of the challenges posed to Mankind as a whole.

6. The crisis situation experienced everywhere, irrespective of the level of development of the various countries, made us realize that we had very probably entered a turning point in the evolution of societies and the world in relation to the recent past. The awareness of this turning point highlights the need for a paradigm shift in the way of thinking about evolution and preparing for the future of the world. This approach, whose elements had been perceived and addressed in several critical studies, became more widely accepted as a necessity. In recent years, the international debate has taken into account this evolution through the adoption of continental and global agendas of a universal scope, in particular, Agenda 2063 of the African Union, Agenda 2030 of the United Nations, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change; and the New Urban Agenda.

7. Agenda 2063 was at the heart of the Africities 7 Summit in Johannesburg in 2015. The theme selected was: ” Shaping the future of Africa with the people: the contribution of African local authorities to Agenda 2063 of the African Union “. Africities 7 was an example of commitment to an essential project, that of the future of the continent and the building of Africa’s unity. The Summit placed itself within the long-term perspective of the continent, supported by the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which proposes to articulate the profound transformation of African societies and of Africa with the urgent need to improve the living conditions of Africans and the preservation of peace within the continent.

8. Agenda 2063 provides a solid framework for redressing the wrongs of the past and for making of the 21st century the century of Africa. Fifty years after the thirty-three (33) first independent African states met to make the historic decision to create the Organization of the African Unity, Agenda 2063 proposes to look at, and to build, the Africa for the next fifty years. This Agenda proposes an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, led by its own citizens, and a dynamic force on the world stage”. The Agenda focuses on the mobilization of the African people on the ownership of development programs on the continent by its citizens. The Agenda lays down the principle of autonomy of decision-making within the continent, which implies the principle of financing the development of Africa. It stressed the importance of having capable institutions, that are inclusive and responsible at all levels and in all spheres. The Agenda highlights the essential role of the Regional Economic Communities as a cornerstone of integration and unity of the continent.

9. Agenda 2063 highlights seven aspirations  : 1. A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development; 2. An integrated continent, politically united and rooted in the ideals of Pan-Africanism and the vision of the African Renaissance; 3. An Africa where good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law are on the agenda; 4. An Africa living in peace and security; 5. An Africa with a strong identity, common heritage, shared values ​​and ethics; 6. A people-centered Africa that builds on the potential of its people, including women and youth, and cares about the well-being of children; 7. A united and influential Africa on the world stage.

10. Agenda 2063 is achieved through ten-year action plans whose implementation is made through the five priority intervention areas adopted by the African Development Bank («High 5 “), namely:

– Lighting Africa and bring energy to it

– Feeding Africa

– Industrializing Africa

– Integrating Africa

– Improving the quality of life of people in Africa.

11. The Africities Summit 7 in Johannesburg, also welcomed the adoption of Agenda 2030 by the United Nations in September 2015. This Agenda defines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of a universal scope, translated into 169 Targets grouped around five priorities (5Ps), namely: The People, the Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership. Through Agenda 2030, the international community has made three major commitments: fighting inequalities, exclusion and injustices; facing up to the climate challenge; and putting an end to extreme poverty. The international community gave itself a slogan: “leave no one behind”. In most U.N. Member States, more than 60 percent of the SDGs fall under the powers that the decentralization laws assign to local and regional governments, hence the invitation of the international community to the States, to promote the localization of the SDGs, and a strong involvement of the local and regional governments in a view of their effective realization. For local governments, the slogan “leave no one behind” must be interpreted as “leave no territory aside”.

12. The Conference of Parties to the UN Convention on Climate Change meeting in Paris in December 2015 (CoP21) resulted in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, which defines the actions to be undertaken at the international level, in order on the one hand, to limit emissions of greenhouse gases to maintain the level of global warming at 2 degrees Celsius maximum by 2100, the threshold beyond which, according to the experts of the interstate group on climate (IPCC), climate disruptions would become unpredictable; and, on the other hand, to implement actions to adapt to the consequences of climate change on the populations and territories where they live. In order to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement, each State Party to the Convention is required to submit nationally determined contributions (NDCs) to the Convention’s Secretariat. IPCC experts estimate that the cumulative implementation of the actions contained in the set of NDCs presented by different states party led to a rise in the planet’s temperature of 3 degrees Celsius, higher than the set ceiling of 2 degrees beyond which the situation would become uncontrollable.

13. It is for this reason that leaders of local and regional governments have decided to strengthen the action of national governments by committing to undertake actions at the territorial level to limit the rise in global warming to a maximum of 15 degrees Celsius by 2100. In this regard, at CoP21 in Paris in 2015, leaders of African cities and territories made commitments alongside their counterparts from other regions of the world, although Africa has contributed very little to current levels of greenhouse gases emissions. The leaders reiterated this commitment at CoP22 in Marrakech in 2016. Most of them have joined the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, and define climate plans in their territories. At the meeting organized in September 2017 in Rabat, Morocco, by UNDP, the NDC Partnership and the secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, participants agreed that without the involvement of local and regional governments, the NDCs of different African states were unlikely to be realized. Hence the recommendation made to the States to work on the territorialization of the NDCs and for a strong involvement of the local and regional governments to their implementation. This territorialization is particularly relevant when we consider that it is first at the territorial level that the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction by 2030 applies.

14. The New Urban Agenda is an implementation strategy of Agenda 2030 in a world that has become predominantly urban since the middle of the first decade of the 2000s. The international debate on cities has evolved. At Habitat 1 in Vancouver, Canada, in 1976, the debate focused mainly on the relationship between industrialization and urbanization and on the relationship between employees and housing. Two new issues have emerged then: the environment and participation. At Habitat 2, in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1996, the right to housing and access to public services had been underscored. Two issues were debated: land tenure security and the social production of housing. Two new actors emerged in the international arena: local and regional governments, which held their first World Assembly of Cities and Local Authorities at a United Nations meeting; and businesses, who, through the creation of the Business Compact with the United Nations under the leadership of the multinational companies, marked their entry into the international debate.

15. The New Agenda for Cities adopted at Habitat 3 in 2016 in Quito, Ecuador, is part of a reshaping of the UN’s priorities around the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. It stressed the need for a more positive view of the role of cities in promoting sustainable development, provided  (i) that there is an adoption of national urban policies that define an urban system taking into account all the cities of levels, including small towns and intermediate cities, not just the big cities and metropolises; (ii) provide that there is a revival in the practice of urban planning in which one must involve all citizens, including the poorest; (iii) provided one links together urban planning, infrastructure and services needs, as well as urban investment financing, of which a significant portion should be sought through the capture by local and regional governments of some land gains generated by the urbanization savings and territorial savings; (iv) and provided that one highlights the partnership with all stakeholders with a view to involving them in the co-production of cities and territories.

16. The New World Urban Agenda sets in particular the goal of achieving the SDGs 11 for “inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable cities and human settlements”. The first three of the ten targets of the goal propose, by 2030 (1) to ensure “access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums”; (2) to “provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all”; 3) to “enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries”.

17. The Sustainable Development Goals restore the importance of the fundamental rights-based approach in comparison to the essentially economic approaches. The SDGs also restore consistency to the various levels of public action. The consistency between the different continental and global agendas is verified. UNDP estimates that 83 percent of the objectives of Agenda 2063 overlap with those of Agenda 2030. The reconciliation of the objectives of these two agendas with the provisions of the Paris Agreement highlights a new approach to the transformation of societies that challenges old conceptions of development.

18. One can also verify that Agenda 2030, while being an undeniable step forward, does not settle the debate on the meaning of public action. The Urban Agenda is non-binding and leaves open the debate between two conceptions of urban social transformation:  to sum it up, choosing between competitive cities and solidarity-based cities. The contradictions remain strong among those offering to rely on the free play of market forces to ensure effective management of urban development, and those who advocate a major resort to public action and regulation for a better respect of fundamental rights, the general interest and the common good in urban management. This debate is unresolved, particularly in Africa, where national and pan-African institutions have not yet fully grasped it. The Africities Summit 2018 offers the opportunity to address this issue at the level of the local governments of Africa and to explore the hybridizations necessary to have the advantages of the two approaches and to minimize their possible disadvantages.

19. For twenty years, the movement of territorial authorities has gained visibility and recognition in Africa. At the Africities 1998 Summit in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, relations between local elected officials and representatives of African states were tense in connection with the issue of decentralization. Since then, and partly thanks to the pan-African platform of dialogue that the Africities Summits have set up, the decentralization and the development of the territories are recognized almost everywhere as a mandatory figure of the modernization of the States and of the improvement of the governance of public affairs. However, the allocation of resources did not follow the allocation of responsibilities. The definition of new relations between the territorial authorities, the national authorities and the supranational authorities at the level of the African Union will be on the agenda of the Africities Summit 2018. For the first time the meeting of ministers will be directly organized by the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) number 8 of the African Union, which brings together the conferences of ministers in charge of public service, urban development, local authorities and decentralization.

20. By adopting, for the Africities 2018 Summit, the theme of the transition to sustainable cities and territories, the local and regional governments of Africa are part of a breakthrough proposal. It is up to them to construct a narrative for Africa corresponding to this bifurcation. The approach of Agenda 2030 presupposes consistency in the activities of the different levels of governance, from the local, national, regional, continental and global levels. National and local public action must now integrate the goals of the main universal agendas adopted by the United Nations, but from a territorial perspective. The territorial vision takes into account proximity to citizens, and facilitates their mobilization and participation in the management of local affairs, respect for the interest and demands of the populations in the definition and implementation of actions at the territorial level, the measurement of results based on the indicators defined following the deliberations concerning the meaning of the actions to be undertaken. At the Africities 2018 Summit, the local and regional governments of Africa shall discuss with all stakeholders the strategy of localization and territorialization of the Sustainable Development Goals and of the corresponding targets.




21. The transition hypothesis makes explicit the idea of ​​a profound change, of a structural evolution. We are at a turning point in all areas of the evolution of cities, territories and societies. A turning point that is defined in civilizational terms and which disrupts all the dimensions of this evolution. This turning point also explains the forms of evolution. It introduces a relationship between the upcoming total change, already in progress, and the continuity of the evolution of societies, of the world and of the planet. The goal is to link sudden change and continuity, and to distinguish between continuities and discontinuities. What is valid for societies is also valid for cities. Thus, new social relationships are slowly emerging from the old. In the transition, a new rationale is needed and all the old forms, social and urban, do adapt to the new dominant rationale, in a specific manner, according to the contexts and situations.

22. The current situation is marked by the contradictions of the world system. The Africities 2018 Summit will take these contradictions as a starting point: it will examine the consequences thereof for Africa and its cities and territories. The Summit will then focus on the role that subnational governments can play in order to begin to overcome these contradictions, starting with territorial policies. Transition modifies paradigms and the way of thinking about the transformation. Transition is basically a process that integrates all dimensions at the same time, hence the difficulty of presenting it in a discursive way.

23. In dealing with the different dimensions of the transition, one should always remember the interactions that such dimensions do maintain. These different dimensions will nonetheless serve as a starting point for identifying changes and for linking transformations with conceptions, policies and strategies. One will therefore analyze: the demographic transition, the ecological transition, the democratic and political transition, the economic and social transition, the geopolitical transition, and the cultural and communicational transition. For each of these dimensions, one should define what characterizes the transition in question, especially in the African context and its specificities, and the role that subnational governments of Africa will play.

24. The demographic transition is a major dimension. It is characterized by five main transformations: the increase of Africa’s share of the world population, the rapid urbanization of the continent, the decisive evolution of the place of women in the political and social field, the generational changes and mutations of African youth, and migrations.

25. Africa had 100 million inhabitants in the 19th century, 275 millions in 1960, and 640 millions in 1990; it should host 1.2 billion people in 2015 (16 percent of the world’s population). Between 2017 and 2050, 26 African countries will see their population double. The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs estimates that the population of Africa is expected to reach 4.5 billion by 2100 (40 percent of the world’s population). At that time the population of Africa will have exceeded that of Asia, and Africa will then be the main center of settlement of humanity. In other words, the choices that the African continent will make in terms of growth and development trajectories will have a great impact on the sustained and sustainable nature of growth and development in Africa and throughout the world.

26. The irruption of women on the political stage of the African continent is one of the most important developments in the national and pan-African debate on the development and integration of the continent. The involvement of women is now crucial for the implementation of public policies and strategies at the territorial, national, regional, continental and global levels. Women make up 51% of the African population. The “Women Matter Africa” report published by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates that $ 12 trillion could be added to Africa’s GDP if the continent takes better advantage of the labor and creativity that African women represent. Echoing that concern, the African Union declared “2015, Women’s Empowerment Year”, in recognition of their contribution to the development of Africa. This recognition is the result of years of struggle, mobilization, and claims carried by women’s associations, including in the local governments movement.

27. At the Africities Summit held in Marrakesh in December 2009, male elected officials of the continent heeded the call of their female counterparts to set up a Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA), which was achieved in Tangiers, Morocco, in March 2011. REFELA is now recognized as the legitimate voice of local elected women in the African continent, and opens national chapters to relay the action of the continental network in each country. REFELA will proceed with the renewal of its instances at the next Africities Summit in Marrakesh. In particular, the Network will review its three-year action plan, which includes the launch and implementation of three campaigns: a campaign of African cities without street children; a campaign of African cities with zero tolerance to violence against women; and a campaign of African cities that are favorable to the economic empowerment of women.

28. Youth is what best characterizes the demographic dynamics of Africa. The African population is the youngest in the world. In 2050, one-third of the world’s youth will live in Africa, compared to one-fifth in 2015. By 2050, the 15-24 age group will grow from 230 million in 2015 to 450 million by 2050, representing almost a doubling of the initial figure. This represents 60 per cent of the continent’s unemployed, compared to an average of 34 per cent in the rest of the world. By 2050, experts estimate that there will be 1 billion young people under 18 in Africa (almost 1 person in 2 in the world). Every year, 10 to 12 million young people do enter the labor market.

29. An increasing share of these young people are settling as autoentrepreneurs. 72 percent of African youth live on less than $2 a day, a level defined as the poverty threshold by the international community. The “Decade of Youth” proclaimed by the African Union in 2009, expires in 2018 without significant progress being made on the youth employment front. The African Union-European Union Summit took youth as the central theme, but no truly applicable proposal emerged. It is not surprising that some young people lose hope for their future on the continent and seek out of the continent better living conditions, sometimes by risking their lives.

30. This alarming situation in many respects should not hide the fact that, thanks to young people, Africa is making rapid progress in the field of new technologies and of the Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to the investment of young Africans, Africa is becoming a land of innovation in the field of mobile applications. The M-Pesa mobile payment platform developed by young Africans has been a forerunner in the adoption of mobile money around the world. The amount of daily transactions in the form of transfers or payments via M-Pesa represents, in Kenya, $ 23.3 million, more than double the daily financial transactions made by commercial banks in Kenya. Think Tank Mobile Money estimates that 82 percent of consumers use mobile banking in Africa, compared to an average of 66 percent worldwide.

31. Beyond financial and banking uses, thanks in particular to the investment of young Africans, IoT is developing rapidly in three areas, mainly to overcome the challenge of distance, the lack of qualified personnel, or insufficient information causing market distortion: the field of agriculture and the agricultural economy; the field of health; and the field of education. The adoption by cities and territories of a transition path to a more sustainable development opportunities for developing new applications that can offers the African continent an important source of new jobs for young people.

32. The rapid urbanization of the continent is a milestone in the demographic transition. Being mostly rural 60 years ago (at the time of national independence of African States), the population of Africa will become predominantly urban within 30 years. In 2009, the urban population, representing 40% of the total population, had 400 million inhabitants. By 2050, it is expected to reach 1.2 billion people, the equivalent of the totality of the continent’s current population, namely 60% of Africa’s population by 2050. The urban fabric of Africa has rapidly evolved. In 1960, Africa had two cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, Cairo and Johannesburg. In 2015, it has 80 cities with more than 1 million inhabitants, of which 20 have 2 million or more inhabitants. 5 cities exceed 8 million inhabitants, one per sub-region: Cairo, Lagos, the Gauteng Urban Region (Johannesburg -Tshwane – Ekhuruleni), Kinshasa, and Nairobi. Urbanization is not just about big cities; 70% of the continent’s urban population lives in intermediate cities (100,000 to 1 million inhabitants) and small towns (10,000 to 100,000 inhabitants).

33. A strong trend observed in most of these cities in Africa is the casualisation of housing which accentuates urban exclusions and segregations. It is estimated that at least 60% of urban dwellers in Africa live in “informal” (substandard) housing and settlements. In the next twenty years, 300 million new urban dwellers will have to be accommodated in Africa. In the next twenty or thirty years, it will be necessary to build in African cities as much infrastructure as it has been constructed until now. Until now, urban development has mainly consisted of adding self-built neighborhoods without any real planning. The majority of urban dwellers are excluded from the legal channels of access to land and housing, and live a precarious land situation, in under-equipped neighborhoods, most often referred to as “irregular” or “informal” neighborhoods. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Number 11, which recommends that by 2030 cities and human settlements become “inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable” seems to be out of reach, unless there is a drastic reconsideration of how informal settlements will be integrated into the planning of African cities.

34. The issue of migration appears to be the major strategic issue in the evolution of the planet’s population. Natural disasters, armed conflicts, social unrest and economic and political crises are leading to more and more displacement of people from rural areas to urban areas, from poor regions to rich regions, from the interior of the continent to coastal areas, feeding an uninterrupted flow of migration within countries, between countries in Africa, or to other regions of the world. These displacements of populations (suffered or desired) raise two big questions: What relations between migrations, development and the distribution of wealth between the countries? How to respect and guarantee the fundamental rights of migrants, migrant workers and their families?

 35. Subnational governments are front liners in the management of migrations since migrant populations generally leave a local government to settle in in another local government in a transition or permanent way, within the same country or in another country, inside or outside Africa. The charter on migrants that the mayors and leaders of local and regional governments of Africa adopted at the Africities 7 Summit held in Johannesburg in December 2015, will be reconsidered and complemented during the 2018 Africities Summit in Marrakesh. Furthermore, a network of African subnational governments willing to invest on the migration issue will be set up. The Africities summit in Marrakesh will also define the stand that African subnational governments will take in the migration debates that will take place around the adoption of a global migration compact that will be on the agenda of the UN conference on migration scheduled in December 2018 in Marrakesh.

36. The ecological transition came about as a result of the realization that, for the first time in the history of Mankind, the organization of the dominant production and consumption system came into conflict with the planetary ecosystem. This awareness is born from the now scientifically established relationship between the growth model and the unsustainable nature of borrowing from and rejection in the necessarily finite natural environment; global warming and climate change; recurrence and magnitude of natural disasters resulting in loss of life and destruction of property and investments.

37. This awareness has the effect of calling into question more and more certainties about growth, productivism, extractivism, and the dominant development model. It opens up a debate around two options: to extend the current productivist models by correcting them with the adopting of green industries and producing environmental technologies; or move to totally different models and forms of growth and development, where the logic of living well and respecting the environment takes precedence over that of frantic growth and competition. This debate is just beginning. It deals as much with the necessary industrialization as with the nature and forms of industrialization. This debate will have far-reaching consequences for public policies as well as for people’s behavior in relation to production and consumption patterns. The choices that will be made in this area will have a major impact on the organization and functioning of cities and territories, including in Africa. This is why the debate on the ecological transition will have a place of choice at the Africities Summit 2018 in Marrakech.

38. Until now, the economies of African countries have been largely dependent on raw materials and extractive industries, one of the main consequences of which is to set up obstacles to the diversification and scaling up of the continent’s economic output. How can Africa get out of this hellish logic? The assumption set out within the framework of the Africities Summit 2018 discussions is that the continent has no option but to take the path of the ecological transition. This trajectory is needed because, as latest comer in the industrialization process, Africa needs to learn from the ecologically unsustainable growth and development experiences of developed and emerging countries.

39. The ecological transition requires challenging the priorities of local economies and redefining them with the principles of sobriety, energy efficiency, and the circular economy. The choices that cities and territories of Africa will make in terms of access to energy, regional planning, organization of production systems, transport and trade, and in relation to their character more or less inclusive, will be of paramount importance for the future of Africa and the world, because it must be recalled that, by 2100, Africa will house almost half of the world’s population.

40. The democratic and political transition is fundamental. The democratic transition is the most significant dimension of the evolution of the political environment. Promoting political unity within the context of the construction of the Nation-State, while respecting the diversity of local contexts, makes the forms of regulation and representation particularly difficult; as well as the link between the renewal of institutions and renewal of elites. Every day, demands are increasingly pressing for the establishment of a political system that guarantees, in well-determined and specific situations, the individual and collective freedoms and the respect for fundamental rights; a political system that therefore leaves open the choice of forms of representation that are respectful of the diversity of societies, establishes the modalities of participatory democracy to correct the abuses of representative democracy, promotes the involvement of citizens in the management of public affairs, and defines mechanisms for monitoring and controlling the actions of leaders by the people; and a political system that condemns corruption in all its forms and restores ethics and individual and collective effort as a means of access to social respectability.

41. At the level of subnational governments in Africa, the stakes are high. Local elected officials are not immune from the generalized mistrust of politics, which takes the form of rejecting corruption by saying that politicians are “all rotten”. The hope that elected local and regional governments will renew African political elites has not yet been realized. New practices and alternative policies would overcome these situations. The example of participatory budgeting, adopted by many African communities, is a promising innovation in this direction.

42Economic and social transition is a key dimension. It must be conceived by taking into account: the dominant rationale, which is that of financialization and regulation by the financial markets; the rise of a new productive sector, built on the digital economy and biotechnologies, which will totally change the forms of production and distribution of goods and services, and even the forms of ownership and access to use of goods and services; and the indebtedness of the various States, which tends to reduce the leeway of the public authorities.

43. The productive base of cities is changing. Companies are being reorganized through spin-offs and subcontracting. National companies are being privatized, especially in public services. Local businesses do constitute the basic economic fabric, although new forms are emerging, such as start-ups and “Uber-ization”. Trade and crafts are marked by the continuity between small businesses and the informal sector. From the social point of view, the decisive element is that of the explosion of social inequalities in every society and throughout the world. The issue of social inequalities overdetermines those of poverty, precariousness and discrimination. It underlies urban, social and ethnic segregation.

44. For Africa, in a few years one has gone from strong afro-pessimism to sometimes exaggerated optimism. The reality is more contradictory. The decline in commodity prices has put many economies in difficulty and recalled that African economies are rather raw material and commodities based and not diversified. African youth, considered one of Africa’s great asset, find few jobs and feed migration flows. Modern agriculture is mainly exporting agricultural products to the industries and markets in developed or emerging countries, while peasant agriculture, which should provide the bulk of food sovereignty, is struggling to get modernized.

45. African entrepreneurs are dynamic and the emergence of several large African companies testifies to that fact. But the continuity of the African economic fabric is not assured with, on the one hand, the control of large sectors by the multinational companies, and, on the other hand, the persistence of an informal sector whose productivity and possibilities to offer decent job are limited. This is one of the major challenges that the economic and social transition poses to local and regional governments of Africa as part of the transition to sustainable cities and territories.

46. Local and regional authorities of Africa are indeed called upon to become the key players in economic and social transition. The local economy can play a decisive role in creating and consolidating the continuity of the economic fabric. Provided training and support are given to local economic actors from the financial, banking and institutional standpoints. Provided that local authorities put in place the basic services necessary to ensure the competitiveness of economic activities (water, sanitation, energy, health, education, culture). Provided also that there is an institutional environment that is favorable to this purpose, and that the State conducts and funds national social policies implemented with the participation of local authorities. Provided, finally, that local authorities do not prohibit the possibility of using local currencies as a means to support the development and growth of local economies. The alliance between local and regional authorities in Africa and African companies is one of the avenues to explore as well to root development in African territories.

47. The geopolitical transition accompanies the emergence of a multipolar world in which the place of Africa has evolved and still evolves. In the long term, we can identify two phases in the recent geopolitical history of the continent. The first phase, which corresponds to decolonization, led to the independence of most African states, which led to a disruption of global geopolitical equilibrium with the entry of more than 50 African states into the United Nations. The geopolitical space was then structured around the post-colonial states belonging to one or other of the two dominant geopolitical blocs, the block of capitalist states, and the bloc of socialist (or communist) states. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bloc of communist states, a second phase of the continent’s geopolitical history is opening up, which has seen the emergence of new actors such as China and the emerging countries of Asia, which changes the terms of the equation of the domination between States, of the relations between States and nations, and the content of identities and affiliations, as well as the very definition of the international scene.

48. Citizens claim that they belong to multiple identities, at the level of their basic community, of their territorial community, their national State, the geographical region or of the continent to which the different States do belong, but also other groupings organized on a linguistic, cultural or other affiliations basis. We are witnessing a reorganization of the public authorities from the bottom, through the establishment of local authorities, and from above, through the establishment of regional grouping at a supra-state level. This recomposition is all the more relevant as the State appears too distant to solve problems of proximity, and too small to deal with global challenges.

49. The entry in lists of subnational governments opens up a new field in the geopolitical space, namely that of international cooperation of subnational authorities, also called decentralized cooperation. The international cooperation of subnational authorities increases the scope of international relations by incorporating the local level of governance, placing it within a perspective of long-term institutional strengthening, and by promoting relations between peoples through beyond the relations between States. This new field sees the role of national, continental and global associations of subnational governments in international debates, to such an extent that these associations come to claim a place at the table of international negotiations that are, so far, the privilege of the sole national States.

50. The contribution of associations of subnational governments in defining the global agendas adopted in 2015 and 2016 was remarkable and appreciated. The involvement of the Global Task Force of Local and Regional Governments in the High Level Political Forum established with the United Nations Secretary General is a step forward to make the voice of local and regional authorities heard at the highest level on the international scene. The influencing capacity of local and regional authorities is increasingly seen as an essential component of soft power policies. The involvement of local and regional authorities in defining global agendas and international negotiations is at the heart of the current debate on the reorganization of global governance.

51. The establishment of large regions as subjects of law is the other facet of the recomposition of the geopolitical space. This is one of the ways in which national States take steps to reduce the impact of the dynamics of globalization on each of the States taken individually. Large regions also appear to be one of the most appropriate responses to climatic and ecological challenges. They make it possible to develop synergies between neighboring countries and to maximize the benefits that regional integration and solidarity offer to each Member State. Their emergence is based on the principle of shared sovereignty. The trend towards strengthening large regions has been helped in part by the rise of multilateralism as the foundation of international relations.

52. The questioning of multilateralism observed in recent years produces mixed effects within the different regional groups. At the level of the African continent, the creation of the African Union marks a turning point in the way Africa, its states and its cities and territories do fit within the world geopolitical space. The African Union has become the legitimate interlocutor for any political dialogue and cooperation with Africa. It is all the more so since all the relevant actors of African public life are represented in the governance architecture of the African Union: National governments, subnational governments, parliaments, civil society organizations, and private sector representatives. The African Union is increasingly becoming one of the major players in the global geopolitical scene. That is why the African Union is of the opinion that the renewal of the post-Cotonou Agreement, supposed to organize relations between Africa and Europe over the next 20 years, must be negotiated from continent to continent, between the African Union and the European Union.

53. The occurrence and persistence of socio-political conflicts and wars is another important element in the assessment of the geopolitical situation.  Between 1 and 2 billion people around the world live in areas affected by a classic war or civil war. These wars profoundly mark the development and planning of cities and territories. A city is not planned in the same way depending on whether the region to which it belongs is at war or in peace.  In countries and regions in crisis or war, cities experience an increase in insecurity: social insecurity, insecurity of employment and housing; ecological insecurity; civic insecurity related to conflicts and relationships to violence. Insecurity is becoming an essential factor in urban management and often leads the populations and leaders of the cities concerned to adopt a security-based ideology, according to which insecurity can only be fought through repression. We are witnessing the rise of new ideologies that explicitly leave room for racism, xenophobia and all-security-based systems that challenge the inadequacies of democracy.

54. Africa will have an increasingly important place in the multipolar world that is emerging. The continent has several strengths and could experience a similar evolution to that of Asia today. As we have seen, a decisive part of the world’s youth is in Africa, which gives the continent a certain demographic dividend. Africa’s raw materials and environmental reserves are vital to the world’s growth and development, giving the continent a competitive advantage. The economic dynamism of African countries is once again showing signs of great vitality after the dark years of structural adjustment. African migrants, the African diaspora, and afro-descendants are active all over the world. One of the conditions of African success will also depend on the ability of leaders of national and subnational governments of Africa to enter into positive alliances with associations of the diaspora of Afro-descendants and migrants. African subnational governments can also play a major role in preventing and resolving conflicts in their territories.

55. The geopolitical highlight of the recent period is the emergence of a global network of large cities which promotes, leads and manages the dynamics of the globalized economy. The emergence of this global network of large cities is a major trend that is restructuring territories around the world, including Africa. This network concentrates the headquarters of the main multinational companies, universities and scientific research centers, the financial and legal services, as well as the cultural facilities of international reputation. The agglomerations that make up this network often play the role of a communication and telecommunications node, and of an animation cluster for their region. Belonging to or connecting to this global network of large cities determines the extent to which cities and territories are involved in shaping the flow of the globalized economy and can draw a benefit for their region.

56. For Africa, three agglomerations are already part of this global network of metropolises: Cairo in Egypt; Johannesburg, in South Africa; and Lagos in Nigeria. These metropolises connect Africa to the space of the globalized economy. Thirty cities with more than one million inhabitants (about six per region) constitute the second tier of the continent’s urban framework, and are expected to play a key role in Africa’s development and integration dynamics, but provided, explicitly, that they themselves become the animators of the network of intermediate cities and small towns which still constitutes the prevailing urban reality within the African continent. The network of intermediate cities and small towns is indeed at the basis of the development of local and regional markets around which the multifaceted relations between rural and urban areas are organized.

57. The cultural and communicational transition is decisive. It involves the adoption of new cultural, scientific or philosophical references. It is often a questioning of certainties from which the interpretation of the world and the harmony of societies are based. It results in the evolution of the system of philosophical social, moral, religious ideas and thoughts which influences, through its representations, individual and collective behavior.

58. Cities will be upset by scientific and technological developments. New technological packages will mark the cities of the future. Examples include robotics, communications satellites, lasers and fiber optics, microprocessors and memories, biotechnologies, new materials and high-resistance ceramics, renewable energies, etc. These new technological packages will have effects on the choice of technical solutions, which from being mainly centralized previously could become increasingly decentralized. The governance and management of cities will be strongly influenced by these developments. The governance and management will probably produce effects beyond the technological sphere. There is no scientific and technological revolution without cultural revolution.

59. Cultural references tend to become more homogenous throughout the world. The dissemination of the cultures of the developed countries, in particular the American culture, extends and intensifies among the youth of the whole world. This extension is mainly based on the Internet and social media networks, and on the multinational companies that dominate this sector, and which are all American (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple – GAFA). Even the culinary practices normally rooted in the soil of a country are modified under the influence of the spread of the American fast food symbolized by the implantation in practically all the countries of the world, of firms like Coca Cola, McDonalds and KFC.

60. In Africa, the adoption of the model of globalized culture is mainly the deeds of the youth of the upper classes and the middle classes of urban populations. Young people from the poor neighborhoods of African cities, for whom this model remains an inaccessible dream, are reinventing a new urban popular culture borrowed from traditional cultures revisited in the light of the violence of everyday life and efforts to deal with it. The vibrancy of this urban popular culture demonstrates the capacity for innovation and creativity of this youth living in disenfranchised neighborhoods.

61. This urban popular culture strongly contributes to the cultural identity of African cities, which is gradually being developed through musical, artistic and cinematographic creations, whose dissemination is also based on mastery of new technologies. The strong comeback of African music, painting, plastic and graphic arts, as well as of the African cinema, in particular the Nigerian cinema (Nollywood), is proof that a cultural and communicational transition is underway in the cities and territories of Africa. How to ensure that this transition accompanies the emergence of a new approach to territorial governance that gives a better place to youth initiatives and leads to better ownership and identification of city dwellers to their city? How can this cultural and communication transition promote the engagement of Africa’s urban youth in the path to transition to sustainable cities and territories in Africa? It is to answer to those question that the participants in the Africities 2018 Summit will also be called upon to contribute.



62. We are at the heart of the questioning about the strategy to be followed so that the engagement of African communities in the transition to sustainable cities and territories is effective. Local and regional authorities are an indispensable step in the implementation of such a strategy for transition. At their level, they must articulate the responses to the emergency and the placement of these responses within a perspective of structural transformation. The challenge is for them to adopt a strategic approach, which articulates urgency and alternative. The emergency response is the daily life of local authorities. It sets priorities for the management and planning of human resource, of financial resources, of natural and ecological resources, and for the planning and programming of land management, public services, and citizen participation. In order to achieve a path of sustainable development, the response must integrate the exploration of alternatives and innovative practices.

63. The alternative territorial policies should be explored around the five major missions that local and regional governments must accomplish: 1) Feeding the cities (or territories); 2) building the cities; 3) providing basic services to the cities; 4) maintaining and ensuring maintenance for the proper operation of cities; 5) administering and managing the cities. The alternative territorial policies must provide answers to the following strategic lines of action: land policies and transport policies based on the questioning of spatial segregation; public service development policies based on access for all to these services and respect for fundamental rights; local development policies based on local production and local businesses, the local market and local employment; local environmental protection policies based on respect for local ecosystems and the rights of future generations; social housing production policies based on the right to housing and to the city; local taxation policies, particularly land based taxation, based on the link between wealth production and redistribution; citizen participation policies based on the articulation between representative and participative democracy and on residence citizenship; cooperation policies based on solidarity between communities within the same city, between cities and territories within the same country, and between cities and regions at the international level around the international action of subnational governments and around the actions of international solidarity between the States and the supra-state regional groupings.

64. In order to have any chance of success, any transition strategy must adopt a multi-stakeholder and multi-level governance approach, following the principle of active subsidiarity. It is essential that the leaders of the cities and territories of Africa understand that it is through partnership between all stakeholders and the synergy of action of the different levels of governance that the local actions are likely to have a lasting impact. The territorial approach to development promotes this perspective, which considers that any development is local, and that the development is real only when it is observed in the daily life of the populations, where they live. The strategy to be defined for the adoption of a trajectory towards sustainable cities and territories must therefore never lose sight of this requirement to provide concrete solutions to reduce the arduousness of citizens’ lives, regardless of the means available, while preparing the conditions for the establishment of a dynamic of structural transformation and sustainable development in the long term, and the best way to define such a strategy is still to involve the populations concerned, and to put in place appropriate mechanisms and modalities for doing so.


65. The transition to sustainable cities and territories in Africa is not an option for the future of the continent and the world. It is essential for Africa to play its full part in the adoption of new production and consumption models, and of development models that are more sensitive to the limits of ecosystems at the level of cities and territories, national or regional spaces, or the entire planet. It also requires the promotion of new social relations based on the equal dignity of human beings, respect for fundamental human rights, the rejection of inequalities and discrimination. The transition highlights the values of solidarity and sharing that break with the competition of all against all, which seems to be the preferred value in the current dominant development model.

66. It is at the level of the cities and territories of Africa, that are less entrenched in the structures of the globalized economy than their counterparts in other regions, that one can cherish the hope of seeing the dynamics of the transition actually begin and rapidly reach a significant scale to inspire other development model choices at the level of Africa and other regions of the world. In order to raise awareness about the new responsibilities that are under their purview in the salutary bifurcation towards a more responsible and just world, and to explore the ways and means of fully assuming their responsibilities, the leaders of subnational governments in Africa invite all stakeholders interested in coming to reflect with them at the Africities Summit from November 20 to November 24, 2018 in Marrakesh, Morocco, on the strategies to be defined and the trajectories to be followed to start the transition towards sustainable cities and territories in Africa.


Rabat, July 16, 2018